Tag Archives: politics

Hoop-Snakes and Hand Grenades (I lied, there are no hand grenades, it’s just a post about Trump)


As the noose seems to be tightening around Trump’s neck, consider:

Trump rode his mastery of media to celebrity status to improve his brand. He was a master at giving people what they wanted on TV (namely, controversy and unpredictability), and he parlayed that into gold-star status for himself, notwithstanding what his actual bank assets may or may not have been (because he still hasn’t — and likely never will — release his tax returns, whee!).

Donald Trump used the media to become a household name.

Not content with that, he launched a presidential bid, because if some black man can do it, well, surely the Donald can stamp his name on the history books in tacky gold lamé. And the media had a field day. Ridiculous! Scandalous! Look at this deluded orange guy, thinking he can swoop in wearing a funny red hat and take over our democracy! They gobbled it up — it was ratings gold, this unpredictable, trollish, angry man who would do anything, say anything, grab anybody by the whatever, and still garner support on the way. They ate it up because we ate it up.

The media used Donald Trump to bolster their ratings.

But they went a step too far, didn’t they? All that coverage was really publicity, because even bad publicity is good publicity, innit? When all that matters in our world of likes and follows and shares and retweets is your name in somebody else’s mouth, the man everybody’s talking about is king. And Trump was, for better or — no, scratch that, decidedly for worse — the name on everybody’s tongue. (BRB scrubbing my tongue.) Everybody was talking about him, and love him or hate him, at least he was different, and since everybody hates the current governmental situation — I mean, congress, amirite?? — a hot handful of Americans were willing to bet the house on “shake things up.”

And now, things are decidedly shook.

Donald Trump used the media to become president.

Then the media panicked. Holy hell, it actually happened. This is terrible for the country — but good for the media. Now, they could legitimately cover the orange one ’round the clock. The man who made his name on being unpredictable and shameless and greedy certainly wasn’t going to stop doing those things just because he became the most powerful man in the world. (Power corrupts, but what happens when you’re already corrupt and then come to power? We are slowly finding out.) The media, therefore, has an endless supply of Trump’s twitter-turds to feast upon, ill-tempered sackings to pore over, thinly-veiled (in wisps of just-visible steam) threats to pontificate upon.

And again, the media is using Trump to bolster its ratings.

Now, Trump loves attention — it’s attention that made him the man he is, for better or — nope, there I go again, it’s DEFINITELY for worse. But what he doesn’t love is attention on every sneaky little thing he does. Dealings between his campaign and Russia? Don’t want you peeking into that. Using his old tweets and campaign promises to shoot down his executive orders? No, thank you. So what does he do? He turns on the media. Tries to discredit them. Fake news, fake news, fake news. Believe me, not them. He’s trying to convince us that he is more trustworthy, more honest, more believable than the institutions that he abused to get where he is.

He bit the hand that fed him.

It was a vicious cycle. The media hated Trump, but it also loved him, because he helped them in his bizarre orange way. They created their nemesis.

But now, as it becomes increasingly apparent that we’ve literally handed the keys to the nation’s supply of fighter jets and nuclear weapons to a man who is, you know, orange, and about as even-tempered as my two-year-old, we seem closer than ever to actually righting this wrong (and by “we” I mean literally any Republican in Washington who might spontaneously grow a spine). Because the more Trump flails around — don’t look into that, won’t be making a statement there, by the way, this guy is fired, also that guy is fired, and if he talks he’ll be super-fired — the guiltier he looks. Nobody bothers thinking you’re hiding something until you act like you have something to hide, and nobody acts like he’s hiding something like Trump. (Again — tax returns. I’m still stuck on that, which would have been relevant WAY before all this Russia stuff.)

If the media is good at anything, it’s good at hounding an issue to death. The media, properly motivated, is an old, droopy-eared bloodhound with jaws like a gator — it won’t stop chasing you and when it gets its teeth into you, you’ll never get them out again.

Donald Trump pissed off the media, and created his nemesis.

The media created Donald Trump, the president we all love to hate. And Trump created the crusading media, which won’t rest until they drag him down from the office they put him in.

It’s a symbiotic relationship forged in hell’s depths. An ouroboros that devours its own tail to reconstruct itself.

I’m beginning to think it’s possible — maybe just possible, the flicker of a candle fighting to stay alight in the heart of a tornado — that he may get impeached even while Republicans still control the house and the Senate. If for no other reason than because he’s only one man, and even with his army of toadies around him, he won’t escape the bloodhound. The media has decided (rightly so) that he has to go, and if this Russia / Comey thing doesn’t bury him, well, they’ll find something else.

But when it’s all said and done, what happens to the media? Like a dog that’s finally caught the mailman, what will they do with their time, when that time comes? Is it a good thing that the media is powerful enough to set its sights on and (hopefully) bring down a president?

Seriously, it’s hard to remember what news was like before this whole Trump debacle. Can we get back to that?

Please?

*Scurries off to watch reruns of The Newsroom*

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What We Own (and don’t)


Going to keep it short today, because my beloved Falcons have a huge game coming up soon, and I’d rather devote my mental energies to that than to more self-flagellation over political matters. Still, a few things seem to bubble to the surface no matter how much I try not to think about them, and today my thought on the matter of our new president is this:

We think we own things, but we don’t.

Take Trump’s supporters, and his victory in the election. Misogyny and possible sexual assault and mocking of handicapped individuals and all that good stuff aside, what brought him to victory was a masterful orchestrating of ingroup/outgroup thinking. To white people across the country, especially to white people living outside of cities, he said: you have been forgotten, and you will be forgotten no more. That message resonated. It got him elected. (Personally I’ll be shocked if he actually delivers on anything that benefits middle- and lower-class people of any race, but that’s neither here nor there, for now.)

The rhetoric speaks for itself. Make America great again. Take back the white house, take back the country. What isn’t said is more significant: Make America great again because it has been tarnished. Take back the white house because it’s been taken from us.

But we’re guilty of the same flawed thinking on the left, too. (And I include myself on the left only because I am so very, very NOT on the right. The left is downright stupid about its share of issues, too.) Now that Trump and the Republicans have the power, we have to fight for what’s ours. We have to protect our country from the damage they’re waiting to do.

Again, the unspoken message is that this is our country and they are going to fargo it up.

But people on the left don’t own America, any more than people on the right do. Or did. Or ever will. It belongs to everyone, to all of us, which means that really, it belongs to none of us. It’s not like we have this part of the soup bowl for white America, and this part for black America, and this part for gay Americans, and this part for Muslim Americans, and any other division you care to think of. It’s all one big bowl of soup. We’re all mixed in here together. And sure, you take a spoonful of the soup and you might get a little more beef in one bite, more potato in the next, but the flavors bleed across into everything; each spoonful shares something in common with the whole.

This isn’t our America vs their America. It’s just America. It doesn’t belong to white people. It doesn’t belong to black people. It doesn’t belong to men, or to women, or to Christians or Jews or straight people or Creed fans. It belongs to all of us.

We can yell and scream and finger-point all we want, but at the end of the day, we’re all simmering in the same big bowl of soup. Thinking of this as an us-vs-them is a zero-sum game. “We” (whichever “we” you prefer) don’t win by shutting “them” up. We win when we realize that while it might be a really groovy idea to add some horseradish to the soup to enhance the flavor of the beef, that’s really going to play havoc with the carrots and the celery, so maybe we save the horseradish for a time when we’re not having soup.

Put another way, consider a national forest. It’s lush, green, lovely, full of bears. It belongs to me, because I pay my taxes. But it doesn’t belong to me the way my house belongs to me, in that I can’t take a chainsaw to a tree because I don’t like the way its shade drifts across my breakfast nook in the summer morning. Further, if I go trying to recreate the national park the way I see fit — say, by clear-cutting acres of forest to make way for a dope skate park — there’s a price I pay. Not just in the fines and jail time I’ll face, but also in the fact that I’ve pretty much screwed up the park for everybody who doesn’t care about dope skate parks. And that “everybody” happens to include more people than the group that does care about dope skate parks. All of which is to say nothing about the displaced grizzly bears that are likely to wander into my breakfast nook and have a bloody tantrum over the lack of shade.

Point is, we have to stop thinking of America as this thing that belongs to us but not them. Like the national park, it belongs to all of us. Like the bowl of soup, we are all intermingled within it.

The quicker we can acknowledge that — on BOTH sides — the quicker we can actually start solving problems in ways that work for everybody.

But not for Packers fans. At least not today. Today is Atlanta’s day.


It’s Us Versus Us


We live in a weird, weird world.

NASA is working on getting us to Mars, but most people can more readily tell you what’s going on in the Kim K. / Taylor Swift feud than what’s going on in space. We’re in the midst of the most insane presidential election — literally — but most people can’t even name their local representative in the state Senate — a person who has vastly more influence over your life than the president will.

We pay attention to the wrong things, and we do it in the most messed-up way.

The election is an obvious, easy-to-hand example. You’re either Pro-Trump or #NeverTrump. Either “I’m with her” or “Hillary for Prison.”

Then start down the list of issues. Gay marriage: Either you carry a bible in your front vest pocket and insist that homosexual unions will destroy the fabric of the country if not the world, or you literally vomit rainbows and gay pride all over all your social media. Gun control: You’re either Rambo, walking the streets with an arsenal enough for a small country strapped over each arm, crowing about the 2nd amendment when you stop to reload, or you’re a hippie living in a dream world, trying to take every gun away from every law-abiding person everywhere while you’re getting murdered by the host of murderers lining up outside your door. Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter.

Get away from the election, and things don’t change. Take any issue in our time. Abortion? You either care about all life and will fight against all sense and decency for every human cell that ever embedded in a uterus, or you’re a bloodthirsty baby-murderer just waiting to chop up some babies. GMOs? They’re either the way and the future and the necessary outgrowth of the world we live in, or they’re Frankenfoods engineered by Monsanto to control your mind and turn you into a gubmint drone. Pokemon Go? It’s either the literal best thing that has ever happened to you in your couch-hugging, socially introverted life, or it’s the bane of your existence and you hope it dies in a virtual electronic fire.

This is our world, now. It (and I’m not even 100% sure what “it” is — maybe the internet, maybe social media, maybe just media, maybe it’s actually the personified world we live in) seeks out the black and white like a vampire running from the sun, it eschews shades of grey the way I eschew Fifty Shades of Grey.

You’re either one of us, or you’re one of them. Republican/Democrat. Pro-gun/Anti-gun. Pro-life/pro-choice. Dog person/cat person. Waffles/pancakes. Go ahead, laugh. But you know you can think up some anti-waffle propaganda just off the top of your head. (Nothing but straight lines with those jerks, and they’re in bed with BIG IRON, right?)

We’re social critters. We long to belong. And while it’s nice to be able to bond over the things we love, it’s a lot easier to find commonality in the things we hate. In-group/out-group. Those people over there? They’re the enemy. They don’t think like you. They don’t believe like you. They don’t share your values. How can you let them have their way?

Think about it. Trump, possibly the most unfit candidate to grace politics since there was even a word for politics, might win, not because people love him, but because they hate Hillary. Clinton, one of the most hated and untrusted figures in recent memory, might win, not because people love her, but because they are terrified of Trump.

I know I post a lot about politics around here. Maybe (okay, probably) (okay, DEFINITELY) too much. But I’m writing about it because this stuff is weighing on my mind. I’m really scared of what’s going to happen in this country after this election, regardless of how it shakes out. Not in that aw, I’m moving to Canada if xxx wins way that everybody always talks about. But in that way where I actually dread turning on the television in the morning, or opening up a news website, because I know I’m only going to see some new horror visited upon this country by its own citizens. By people who are twisted up in knots by this us vs. them mentality that permeates every aspect of every issue.

I fear that we could see another presidential assassination. Regardless of who wins. People on both sides hate each candidate enough, and we get so riled up about it all. Certainly there are enough guns lying around. It’s not hard to imagine some nutjob going off the rails and killing either one of them. Hell, it’s not hard to imagine some guy down the street who you thought was normal doing it.

I hate to pick on the RNC, because I know the DNC is going to have its own idiocy going on as well, but, well, the RNC is going on right now. I look at the speeches and the people on the stage and it terrifies me. Otherwise ordinary people telling a room full of other otherwise ordinary people that some other otherwise ordinary people outside this room are lawless, lazy people that want to see the country burn. People with no more political sense than a goldfingered golf-course gopher insisting that they’re sure the acting president is working for the enemy. People holding mock trials for their political opponents and whipping the crowd into a tear-streaked, red-faced frenzy.

And I know the DNC is going to go the same way, just in the opposite direction.

What’s so easy to forget, here, is that those people? You know, the ones you don’t agree with? The ones whose viewpoints you can’t even fathom? The ones whose brains must not even be functioning properly, whose thinking is so backward it’d be better if they just died off and left the country to the rest of us, who are single-handedly flushing the country down the tubes?

Those people?

They are our neighbors. Our dentists, our doctors, our lawyers. They bag our groceries and change the oil in our cars and patrol our streets and teach our children and defend our country and and and…

They aren’t robots. They aren’t faceless soldiers in an enemy army. They didn’t get their viewpoints with the latest firmware update on their birthday. They thought about these issues. Weighed them. Cared a lot about them. Maybe not recently, but at some point, they engaged their brain and made the best decision they could based on the best information they had.

And maybe their information was bad, but that’s not their fault. And maybe a trusted source is giving them deliberately misleading information, but that’s not their fault either.

They are just, to use a really tired cliche, like you and me.

We need to remember that.

Image of the Earth from Apollo 17

We need to remember that when our parents are telling us, beyond all belief, that they like Trump. We need to remember that when our co-workers tell us they don’t see what the big deal is with the whole Black Lives Matter thing. We need to remember that when our kids tell us that they’re gay or straight or trans or whatever.

They didn’t just make this stuff up. They’re not crazy just because they take the other side of the issue.

They are human.

It’s not us versus them.

It’s us versus us.

If we want to heal as a country, if we want to come through this thing (and again, I’m not even sure what I mean by “this thing” — the election? the decade? life, the universe, and everything?) in one piece, we’ve got to stop demonizing the “other” and start seeing each other as equals. We have to start trying to understand one another rather than just shouting about how right we are and how wrong they are.

That’s not a race thing, not a gender thing, not a religion thing.

It’s a human thing.

And we need to start acting like it.

I’m going off the political posts for a while, because I really just can’t. I can’t with the plagiarized speeches, with the shootings of and by police, with the protests, with the terrorist attacks. Lighter fare in the days to come, I promise. Probably gonna write about American Ninja Warrior or something ridiculous like that just to clear the pipes.

Photo: “The Blue Marble,” property of NASA.


Rush Limbaugh is a Terrorist


Things are bad enough, aren’t they?

We have a police culture that is maybe a little trigger-happy right now. We have a black population that is feeling victimized and angry. We have politicians and talking heads fumbling at the ragged edges of this issue. We have social media activism and god almighty my Facebook feed is choked like a propeller in a weed swamp with sanctimonious links saying “THIS” and “SO MUCH THIS” and I just can’t take anymore.

Everybody’s a poet, everybody has something profound to say, and that’s great and that’s fine, but unfortunately, social media activism is just about as effective as prayer: we think about these things for a little while until the media firestorm dies down, and then we move on to the next thing. This is fine, and it’s probably not going to change anytime soon, because the posts and the shares and the virals are generally the province of people who have relatively small spheres of influence. Pockets of activism spring up, get loud for a little while, and then peter out. This is the way of things.

But not everybody has a small sphere.

Some spheres are rather large.

In fact, some spheres are so bloated they defy belief. So massive they develop their own gravity, which spreads and expands and pulls people in.

Rush Limbaugh is one such sphere. (And in a curious twist, he’s roughly spherical in shape himself.)

If you’re an American, you know Rush. If you’re not, in short, he’s a fat, angry, sweaty ball of grease and hatred with an audience of millions who listen to his radio program daily. He’s a bloated, vindictive, hateful sack of phlegm and poison who vents his spleen to otherwise intelligent people on the “right” side of our political spectrum.

And on his program Friday, he said that the Black Lives Matter movement are terrorists.

Now, I get it. He’s an “entertainer,” it’s his job to get ratings and to get people tuning in. It’s his job to be provocative.

But the problem with being provocative? The root of that word is “provoke.” Which means inciting action. Which means stirring people to do things.

Everybody’s on edge in this country right now. Everybody’s touchy. Everybody’s overly sensitive. You can’t say “black lives matter” because that means you’re anti-cop, and by the way, ALL LIVES MATTER. You can’t say “all lives matter” because you idiot, there’s a pattern of violence and prejudice in law enforcement against people of color, and you’re totally missing the point.

Look around the country at all the protests and the rampant social media activism, and you’ll see that we’re approaching a boiling point. People are angry. Upset. Scared.

Discourse must be had. We have to talk these things out. We have to share uncomfortable ideas, we have to communicate our fears, but more importantly, we have to LISTEN to each other if we want to make it through this.

And here comes Rush, throwing into this volatile mix of mistrust and fear the word “terrorism.”

Don’t forget, too, that Rush’s audience is primarily folks on the “right”. People who feel their country is being taken from them. Rush tells these people that this group of people over here? This group of people that look different from you, that act different from you, that you probably don’t understand very well?

Those people are terrorists.

Rush is telling people who are angry about the state of their country that these people — their own countrymen, other citizens and civilians like them — are terrorists.

Somebody in his audience is going to believe him. Maybe several somebodies.

And somebody in his audience is going to act on those beliefs. Maybe several somebodies.

There will be more blood shed. There will be more protests, more violence, more arrests, and on and on and on.

Demonizing the other side doesn’t help. Sowing the hate and the fear and the distrust even deeper is not a solution.

It’s not like this happens in a vacuum — Rush is always squeezing off tidbits like this, designed to enrage and incite — but this one is particularly bad, because he’s going to get people killed. Blood will be on his hands.

This is how you incite a race war.

Rush Limbaugh is the terrorist. And he has an audience of millions.


This Is Not The Time to Vote Third Party (Unless It Is)


Election stuff. As prolific as fecal bacteria at a Gulf Shore beach and just as shitty.

Both parties have managed to put up candidates who could, tomorrow, rip off their human skins to reveal reptilian scales beneath, and not a single person in the world would be surprised.

The Republicans have had their Battle Royale and will (unless crazier things are yet in store, and apparently there are people in the party working for exactly that) officially name a radioactive potato as their candidate in just a few short weeks. A xenophobic, racist, sexist, dollar- and self-worshipping bag of elephant assholes, who literally cannot stop the feces fountain that erupts from his mouth without warning, day or night.

It was the best thing Democrats could hope for. What country could ever elect this “man”?

But then the Democrats held their own coronation festival for perhaps the most disliked figure in recent political history, a woman who … well, it’s hard to say exactly what the Republicans dislike about her so much. They say she’s dishonest, but … she’s a politician. There’s that Benghazi thing, but again … she’s a politician, and she’s just one thread in a massive tapestry. Nonetheless, they hate her, and they’ve convinced a lot of innocent bystanders to hate her, and the Democrats will be putting her into the ring with Agent Orange come November.

It was the best thing Republicans could hope for.

So now we’ve got a real race to the bottom, a true battle of “which terrible, horrible, very bad, no-good candidate will be less awful for our country”.

It would be a perfect time, come to think of it, to vote third party.

Why not, right? The two-party system has belched up this rotten buffet of a living, breathing cheesesteak versus what is probably a pod-person, and it all sucks. It sucks bad. Like, moving to Canada bad. I hear they have healthcare figured out up there. Never has a third party candidate looked more appealing!

But the problem with a third party is the same problem it’s always been, which is that the two parties, as hell-fargoed as they are, have enough entrenched followers that they will never lose to a third party. And it’s a damn shame. Because the libertarians put forth ideology that, I would wager, sits right with the vast majority of Americans. Real laissez-faire stuff, not that Republican brand of get off my lawn (which quickly turns into HEY TRIM YOUR LAWN ACCORDING TO THE STANDARDS WE’VE SET DOWN when they decide you’re not Jesusing hard enough). And they don’t go crazy with the entitlements and the social aid like the Democrats do either. Not ruthlessly pandering to any base. Not shamelessly lobbying for votes. Just decent, commonsense, middle-of-the-road approaches to politics.

This is the perfect time to vote third party, to send a message to the two parties that we’re fed up with their Hatfield-and-McCoy-ing.

But.

If you’re a Republican, you hate Hillary like the son of the man who killed your father. And you know that if you vote for a third party (who won’t win in November), much as it’d be nice to stand on principle and send a message to your own party, you know that one less vote for Trump is essentially one more vote for Hillary. So you clearly can’t do that.

And if you’re a Democrat, you fear Trump like the Boogeyman that probably already got his soul. And you know that if you vote for a third party (who won’t win in November), much as you’d love to chastise your party for putting up such a flawed candidate, you know that one less vote for Hillary is essentially one more vote for Trump. So you clearly can’t do that.

Never get involved with a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Both cups are poisoned. There’s a third cup, but if you drink from it, you lose by default, even if you win in principle.

This is the perfect time to vote third party, because the other candidates suck. They really suck.

But this is the absolute wrong time to vote third party, because … what if the other guy wins?

Unless you’re a Republican who can’t bring yourself to vote for Trump. In that case, by all means, vote third party. Because while the Democrats may be a circle-jerking ring of hippie love and pot-legalizing granola crunchies, the Republicans are that nasty patch of grass that somehow keeps growing in the shadow of the melted-down nuclear plant.


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